Invisible Ink, Endless Page


“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. ” – Vita Sackville-West.

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ” – Vladimir Nabakov.

Two helpful quotes by two prominent Vs. I love the name ‘Vita’ – imagine being named after life itself; if a name has any effect at all, would it not in this case propel a Vita into living the fullest, most sparkling life?  I, being a Helen, have to stretch between two impossible points – Light, after the Greek, Helios, and the ideal of Beauty. A certain amount of stasis there. No matter how fast light travels it always seems to stick where it is, barring natural impediment or man made switch. I think I am looking for excuses for the slowness of progression, right now. It’s one of those days.

Thankfully, I met Mr Chalmers up there on the street which bears his name. It was the first time I had really noticed him there, despite spending a fair chunk of my teenage years in the city. Who, in looking on that steely face and stainy body, could fail to feel that life was vivid and marching on quite at the right speed? From his wiki page –

“At the age of eleven Chalmers was entered as a student at St Andrews [University], where he devoted himself almost exclusively to mathematics. […] His mathematical lectures roused so much enthusiasm that they were discontinued by order of the authorities, who disliked the disturbance of the university routine which they involved.”

Apparently, apart from being a mathematics lecturer, Political Economist, and fiery preacher with the Free Church of Scotland, he also:

“During a life of incessant activity scarcely ever allowed a day to pass without its modicum of composition; at the most unseasonable times, and in the most unlikely places, he would occupy himself with literary work. His writings occupy more than 30 volumes.”

But a word of caution, “He would have stood higher as an author had he written less, or had he indulged less in that practice of reiteration into which he was constantly betrayed by his anxiety to impress his ideas upon others.”

Quite the face, quite the character.

So, vim and vigour or slow and (un)steadiness?



Filed under Edinburgh, Scotland, The Now

2 responses to “Invisible Ink, Endless Page

  1. Deb

    Ah, but what a time it must have been. What’s life without a little breathlessness? Vim and vigor all the way.

  2. Yes, precisely. Although university at 11? It’s hard to image the intense little fellow bent over his sums…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s